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Reviews 91 and mother, and her world is rewarding for anyone interested in families; its rich period details are fascinating; its descriptions of nature quicken all the senses. But more than anything else, one sees the family resemblance between Joan and Jack: the power of their writing, their extraordinary sense of life, and their shared difficulties in managing the intimate relationships within their troubled family. That Joan went on to write Jack London and His Times, an important biographical source, as well as So Shall Ye Reap: The Story of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Workers’ Movement, comes as no surprise to those familiar with the influence of London’s writing and political beliefs. That she developed a huge correspondence with organizations such as Albert Camus’ committee to help Republican refugees from Franco’s Spain, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Amnesty International seems in keeping with the London spirit she is able so uniquely—if only partially—to describe in Jack London and His Daughters. JEANNE CAMPBELL REESMAN The University of Texas at San Antonio The Autobiography of William Allen White. Second edition, revised and abridged. Edited by Sally Foreman Griffith. (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1990. 384 pages, $29.95/$ 12.95.) William Allen White was a frontier boy, a small-town newspaperman, and a national political figure. He grew up in El Dorado, Kansas and watched the town change from a self-sufficient frontier village into a town reliant on the railroad and a market economy. The implications of that transformation remained a central part of White’s adult point of view. Although there are half a dozen biographies of White, two of them written in the last seven years, no one can tell White’s story quite the way he can. His persistent popularity stems as much from his colloquial style as from any astute insights. Speaking of his first boss, Thomas Parker Fulton, “Tee Pee,” editor of the Butler County Democrat, White writes: “when the fitful fever of the Kansas boom broke in the late eighties, he was one of its casualties and went outward with the tide.” Such prose, coupled with White’s consistently personal point of view, and the fact that he knew everybody, won a post-humous Pulitzer Prize for The Autobiography, and justifies this long-overdue second edition. Because White died before he could edit the transcripts he had dictated to his secretary, compiling a definitive edition of The Autobiography poses some peculiar challenges. Wisely, Editor Sally Foreman Griffith, one of White’s recent biographers (Home Town News: William Allen White and the Emporia Gazette, 1989), has not tried to “recapture some ideal ‘original’ version.” Rather, she has reduced the admittedly over-written original edition from 649 pages to 331 pages and rearranged the original 87 chapters into 24. Omitted 92 Western American Literature material will not be missed by the average reader. A White scholar must still consult the 1946 edition, however. More disturbing are the footnotes. Griffith footnotes every literary refer­ ence from McGuffey’s readers to Don Quixote, and every Biblical allusion and phrase from “For the wages of sin are death” to “The Peace that Passeth Understanding.” But she does not identify the “Spoopendyke Papers,” a syndi­ cated humorist White refers to, nor does she identify the colorful allusions to Kansas personalities White refers to as “an old mossback Jacksonian . . . another shabby, wild-eyed, rattle-brained fanatic . . . an old human hoop skirt . .. an editor who has failed as a preacher” in his anti-Populist editorial. These are figures the reader wants identified. The Biographical Notes are of some use, although the average reader probably knows William Shakespeare and Ludwig van Beethoven without having to refer to the appendix. Most disappointing is the omission of the last chapter in the original edition, White’s comments on events during the last twenty years of his life, compiled from editorials and letters by his son. Still, The Autobiography of William Allen White, even in diminished form, is a classic of the genre and a valuable point of reference for studies of the development of the Great Plains from frontier days into the modern age. Now if someone would only reprint...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 91-92
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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